This is an interesting article from a writer based in Dubai. It would be nice if some references were given. I did not realize that the Pentagon announced it would withdraw a large percentage of US troops in mid 2008. If there were such an announcement I imagine it would be accompanied by a number of qualifiers. I am not sure how credible predictions of a 26 per cent chance of victory are or even what victory is supposed to mean.
Cards are stacked against US in Iraq
By Dr. Mohammad Akif Jamal, Special to Gulf News
Published: July 14, 2007, 00:04
The contradicting statements made by American officials regarding the situation in Iraq reflect the weakness of the US political stand in the country, despite its military and economic might.
They also mirror what is far more alarming for Iraqis, which is the uncertainty of their country's future, such as when the Pentagon announced the intention of US President George W. Bush's administration to withdraw a large part of its troops from Iraq in mid-2008, while General David Petraeus, Commander of the American forces in Iraq, said the US needs about 10 years to win the war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, veteran US military chiefs, who experienced the war in Vietnam, voiced deep concerns about what is happening in Iraq, pointing out that the US troops have six months to win the war. Otherwise, they have to face a similar scenario to what happened in Vietnam.
This would result in huge losses in the political and moral support the US administration needs from the American people to carry on with this war.
The statements issued by the Pentagon aim to enhance the political position of Bush's administration and weaken the pressure applied on it from the Democrat-dominated Congress and the growing anger of the American public.
With the increase in fatalities among the US troops, General Petraeus seems to be more in touch with reality in his reading of the future of what is going on in Iraq, unlike the Pentagon theorists, who are used to twisting the truth to manipulate American public opinion.
A recent study conducted by Professor Patricia Sullivan from the University of Georgia's School of Public Affairs estimates that the US has a 26 per cent chance of victory in a war that could endure approximately 10 years.
The research was based on a case study of 122 conflicts that have erupted in different parts of the world since the Second World War.
In these conflicts, some major powers such as the US, Great Britain, France, the former Soviet Union and China faced much weaker forces including small countries and even militias and terrorist groups.
This study model succeeded in predicting the outcomes of the struggle in 80 per cent of the cases.
The study revealed that the militarily advanced countries have failed to win 39 per cent of the military conflicts against less powerful countries or sides throughout the past 60 years, with many factors behind this.
These include the aim of the conflict, as fighting against liberation movements mostly ends in failure.
They also include the area of the conflict and it closeness to another powerful country that supports the weaker side, as well as the nature of conflict, qualified military leaderships, regional and international compassion with one side or the other.
The legitimacy of the use of force in ending conflicts is another one of the determining factors, as well as a superpower's loss of the people's confidence, the variety in the nature of culture and history between the parties of conflict and political flexibility, ability to manoeuvre and the availability of resources to sustain the conflict.
No defined target
In conflicts that erupt between superpowers and minor ones, most advanced and devastating weapons are put aside because there is no defined target for them, and in case such weapons were used, the superpower would be condemned by the international community for endangering the lives of civilians and their properties.
Meanwhile, the superpower's armed forces will be an easy target for the weaker party in the conflict, as they are fighting in unfamiliar territory and hostile land.
Studies such as Sullivan's do not sound alarm bells for strategy planners and policy makers of major powers, mainly because in such conflicts there is no ultimate winner or loser except in a few cases.
Most conflicts that erupted after the Second World War, when the UN and its affiliated organisations were being established, ended with the two parties of the conflict sitting at the negotiating table with a mediator from the UN, another regional organisation or another major power.
Such negotiations usually granted the superpower some of the targets it had for entering the conflict.
In the Iraqi case, the US had many targets for invading Iraq and interfering in its affairs, the most important of which was to hold the keys to solely dominate international energy sources and strategy, which in turn allows it to remain the world's sole superpower for many decades to come, and until the depletion of oil.
The best proof of the US's hunger for control through oil is its growing pressures on the Iraqi government and its various institutions including the parliament, to speed up the endorsement of the new oil and gas law and put it into effect, which binds any subsequent executive authority.
Dr. Mohammad Akif Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.